How to Properly Empathize With People

Show compassion to the people you care about in an honest way

Photo by Official on Unsplash

Have you ever had a time in your life where you felt like nobody understood what you were going through? This may be your situation right now or you may have had in the past, either way, you know how bad the feeling is. You shouldn’t want anybody to feel this way, which is why you need to show empathy when you can.

Don’t do it for recognition, do it because you know how bad it hurts to be alone. Many of your friends and family may have come to you sometime in your life to share their life stories or what was bothering them at that moment. Do you remember what your response was or how you handle the situation?

When I was younger, I used to question myself saying “why are they talking to me about this?” It wasn’t until I experienced certain times where I was happy or sad and didn’t have anyone to tell.

You may have also been a victim of people not showing you empathy or fake empathy at that. You don’t want to be the person who rains on everybody’s parade or makes them feel worse than they’re already feeling.

Everyone needs help emotionally. No matter how tough or stoic somebody may be, they need time to speak about their feelings and problems. You should strive to be that person who is always willing to listen and share genuine advice to help somebody succeed.

You probably have a few people that you communicate with immediately when something either good or bad happens to you. These people have your trust and they know that life isn’t only about them but for their friends as well. See what you can learn from friends like this and how you can apply those same characteristics to your life.

Listening Without Saying Too Much

Do you ever think of why we have two ears and only one mouth? The ability to listen closely to conversations is an ability that every human should use to their advantage.

We like to listen to things that have something to do with us or can better our lives. So, how does this relate to somebody to who we're showing empathy? It’s simple, people love to talk about themselves from time to time (including me) but it’s hard to determine whether somebody is actually sad or happy.

Are they just talking about themselves because they think it’s cool or are they doing it because something is actually bothering them?

There are keywords and phrases that you can listen out for when trying to see how somebody is communicating with you. Many times when people want attention, they will use a lot of “I” statements. It’s not done purposely but it’s what comes to their minds at the moment.

When somebody is not necessarily looking for attention and just want to be heard they will usually ask questions to the person they’re communicating with like

“How do you feel about that?” Or “I don’t know if it’s just me?”

True empathizers know the difference between these two categories of communication, one rule that you should follow when it comes to both forms is listening without doing too much talking.

If a person is going on and on with something embarrassing that happened to them at a party then let them go and on until they’re done. When the time allows, you can then add some advice into the conversation and see how they respond. Remember to actually listen and not do it just for show, people will appreciate your presence more once you do so.

Figure Out Ways to Help

What is your goal when it comes to showing somebody empathy? A good goal to have is to help with whatever they're going through. Showing empathy isn’t just for times of sadness but happier times too.

How do you show somebody empathy when they’re happy?

Figure out ways to make them feel appreciated and accomplished. This is helping them understand their true value and that the work they've done to become a better person isn’t going unseen. As far as trying to keep your friends grounded, don’t make that your primary job, life will take care of that for them.

If you see your friend becoming overconfident, try to switch the subject to something related to their accomplishment that will allow them to not talk about themselves too much.

When somebody is frustrated and is looking for empathy, your job is to help them calm down or find a solution. One of the questions that I ask myself when I’m in a position like this is “What would I do in their position?” Once that question is asked, sparks of ideas start coming to my head for offering that person some solutions.

Not all of the solutions are guaranteed to work but it gives the person options for what they can do instead of what they can’t do.

Showing empathy comes down to letting close ones know that they’re not alone no matter how they’re feeling. Being able to offer help in situations like this will show them that you have respect and compassion for what they’re going through.

It doesn’t make sense to say you're showing somebody empathy when you can just do it. Helping doesn’t always have to be giving alternatives to different scenarios but being a listening ear as well.

Photo by Margarida Afonso on Unsplash

Communicate With Others a Few Days After

It’s easy to forget about people’s problems because we can be so focused on ourselves. Having a friend who may have got their dream job can be exciting for them but make you a little envious. Your friends wouldn’t want you to feel this way and you wouldn't’ want them to feel that way in the same situation, vice versa.

Letting your friends know that you’re genuinely happy for them doesn’t just have to be at the moment you first hear about it but a few days later as well. Many great things happen to us in our lives whether it was through luck or hard work. Once we do complete the goals that we spent so much time working on, we forget about them and find another problem to deal with right away.

Imagine how your close ones feel when this happens to them, encourage them by letting them know that you’re still proud of them even after the event has passed. The same goes for when somebody is feeling down, check up on them a few days after that initial conversation and see if they figured out their issues.

You can ask them “How their mindset has changed from then to now?” Showing empathy doesn’t only have to be in the moment but it can be in the future as well.

You never know when it’s going to be your last minute on Earth so share your empathy with as many people as you can no matter how long ago they told you something about their lives. Communication is key if you want to boost your skills in showing empathy. This is just one of the techniques that you can use to show more empathy in other people’s lives.

If you truly care about the people around you then you won’t have to worry about trying to show empathy, it will come naturally. Use these tips to build deeper relationships with the people who you consider to be close. I’ll leave you with a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald that says

“Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone…just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”

A young adult who’s writing is geared towards self-improvement and self care. “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store